i have tasted air bag, it’s a badge of honor, a one-way ticket to epiphany, it tastes like burnt rubber, like powdery words sucked dry by the heat of a crash, it tastes like my last words, it tastes like my first ones, it tastes like winter, it is the eyes of a deer in my headlights, i have tasted air bag, in my dreams i hover above, watch myself turn the wheel, watch the car spin, the air bag deploy, air bag is a hot taste like the moment before impact when you remember the powdery sand on your tongue the day your daughter dragged you, truculent, begrudging, into deeper, colder water, where you frowned and she tried to teach you joy, i remembered clouds, i remembered cutting carrots, cocoa burning on my lip, it’s the moment you can taste, the one you’ll never forget, a taste of doubt about such an oversized, industrial dump truck and you, a small, crushable thing darting in front of it, doubt that you know yourself, doubt that the one who took the left was a part of you, a self-loathing hypocrite, dormant, precise, the truth is, it was not a choice, but it could have been and the officer who came to the hospital after i was left in the hall like a mouth-hanging, toothless half-dead permanent resident, knew that, and he came to question me, to be convinced, he came as an omen, an alarm bell, a skeptical voice from the outside asking something i never would have thought of, let’s just say if i could do it again, i wouldn’t have turned left, i would have waited for my turn, gone on my way, continued to live on the addicted verge of saying yes or saying goodbye, i would have stayed home, gotten drunk, anything but turned left, let’s just say or ask: who chooses to realize that kind of pain? not the skin cutting, bone breaking pain but the taking that look at where you never got wheel spinning nowhere, and to think, if it were true, i actually stole the conscious moment from myself, the head in the oven, the slit wrists, i have tasted air bag, it is distant and close, it’s a threshold, it’s a rite of passage, the heat of it steals away your innocence, it’s the writing on the wall, air bag tastes like blood, hot and salty on your tongue, it tastes like death, it tastes like life, i always say that i am lucky when i experience something nobody else gets to, that’s true, even now i feel lucky but unlucky because air bag is something you wish you had never tasted—like war or the knowledge that life is just keeping going